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House of Makers

For the past ten days I have been in Residency. I’m entering
the last leg of my MFA journey. Each day I leave the house with complete confidence that my three sons
are safe under the supervision of their sister, 20-year-old-benevolent-dictator, Hannah.

Yesterday when she picked me up at 6:30. I was informed of
the day’s adventure by all four of my children… simultaneously:

Liam wanted me to
drive through the carwash
        and Hannah
blasted the theme song to Little Big Planet,
… at the park, there
was a… rode my scooter and feed the ducks…
        library and Barnes &
Noble there was a book with a Lego guy
and I checked out a
book about orchestration so I can…
        one on Constantine’s
early rule and a biography of John Lennon… 

Surveying the state of the house when I arrive home, I
realize the morning was an equal bundle of good times. I begin to tidy the
clues. I don’t mind the mess. The process of cleaning up actually helps me
unwind after a day of academia… I mean literally

I follow a mass of tangled white yarn that is strewn from
the kitchen to the living room. What I discover at the end of the line is tremendous—two forks cocooned
to stillness, functional objects transformed to a beautifully still
non-functional state. I pause in awe of the ingenuity that drove the artist
into this work and marvel at the result. The sculpture speaks to me, hangs a
question, “Is the yarn limiting the fork or expanding its potential?”

I collect the fork sculpture and head toward the Gathering Ledge, the place in my kitchen
where I put such misfit items, and kneel to my hands and knees to begin
gathering loose items from the low spaces. I pick up some stray pencils, toy
cars, and sit up when I come upon two sheets of paper, ovals mysteriously cut
out of the center.

Back on my feet I move swiftly toward the trash and am
halted when my peripheral vision is intrigued by a yellow blur… the missing ovals. But they are much
more than ovals. They are prototypes,
furniture design—a bench and a chair that would make Ray and Charles Eames

Not sure where I collected the Eye that’s painted on a scrap of canvas, but I do know that Taylor
plans for this to be a small contribution to a very large installation.

Finally I scoop up two phone books, the Yellow Pages, the ones that Hannah and Taylor have big plans for, a
top-secret video project (shhhhhh…). I set the books on the ledge with Forks Woven to One by Yarn, Oval Prototypes of a Bench and a Chair, Eye and Bingo Ball and Lego Block.

At the end of my tidying, I survey the items perched on the Gathering Ledge and sense a connection

Last week Sunday was the close of Leonardo Da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture: Inspiration and Invention at The Getty Center. We made the trip up to the exhibit twice and were pulling
into the parking structure for a third

Inside the gallery, Taylor taps me on the shoulder, “Look at
this Mom! On the same page, the face
of Dante and the design for a mechanical military device.”

I nod speechlessly. We move around the gallery packed with voracious viewers on
this closing day of the exhibit, overwhelmed by page after page, a royal
sampling of Da Vinci’s sketchbooks, many belonging to Queen Elizabeth II
herself, pages we will most likely never seen again.

Hannah leads me to a page that began with a student sketch
of the Angel of the Annunciation and
pointed out the correction—a single line—that the master Da Vinci made to the
right arm, a correction that somehow lead Da Vinci to pour out a stream of
consciousness of lines: horses in various rearing positions, designs for
military weapons and machinery, “Can’t you just imagine the wide-eyed student
silently slipping away from the lesson while Da Vinci went on merrily

Looking around I realize that most of what I am able to
absorb is unfinished, unrealized. Does this make Leonardo a slacker? …I
wouldn’t dare.

Back home I take a second look at my Gathering Ledge, superimpose what I see on my memory of the Getty
exhibit and have proof positive: I am in the midst of genius.

This summer I am going to grow the Gathering Ledge, give my children
more room to explore the process of being creative, more Da Vinci moments. There is no space for perfection on that ledge, only burgeoning imagination.


3 thoughts on “House of Makers

  1. Love these pieces of art and playful musing. I think I need to create more spaces for unfettered making in my house. The gathering ledge honors the process, doesn’t it? What a gift to share the journey with fellow art- and word-lovers!

  2. This post is in the 239th Carnival of Homeschooling, history of home education edition, which now is up at The Common Room, My theme is ‘the history of homeschooling in America.’ It was very interesting to research and I learned some fascinating things along the way (do you know why we have age segregated classrooms in America?).
    Please pay us a visit, and reciprocate in the publicity the carnival brings you by passing along the link along so others can visit as well.
    Please consider other ways to spread the news about the carnival as well- the more people who visit the carnival, the more link-love you get- If you have a facebook account, you could pass on the link there (fb doesn’t like tiny url links, so here’s the long one:, and if you have a twitter account, please tweet!

  3. I love this post – I could visualize you walking through the house discovering each treasure! My kids are so little that I am usually stepping on their “treasures” like toy cars and barbie shoes!

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